As a millennial, I hate a "study of millennials' attitudes" more than I hate when my mom makes me stop texting in a restaurant. Y'all can't understand our unique, complex, intricate lives with your New York Times Style–page level of analysis! We're unique, trophy-for-everything-winning snowflakes. Also, a lot of those trend pieces are really, truly idiotic—explain away, Elspeth Reeve, you did it so well.
Still, even a narcissistic, parentally financed, '90s-nostalgia-obsessed twentysomething like me can acknowledge that certain societal factors can, in fact, shape whole generations. One of those is the political climate in which you come of age. And this one fucking sucks. (Don't tell my mom I said that word or I'll have to come up from the basement and put a quarter in the swear jar!) Yeah, it sucks for all generations—everyone's been losing their faith in government lately, said Pew Research in late 2011:
Trust in government has fallen among all generations in the past few years. Just 26% of Millennials say they can trust the government always or most of the time, down from 44% in 2004. There have been comparable declines among Gen Xers, Boomers and Silents. In all three groups, no more than about one-in-five says they can trust in government always or most of the time.
But hey, given the current political climate, we can expect a lot more stuff in the future like the Harvard poll of millennials that came out this past spring:
“If you are 24 years old, all you know is petty partisan politics while big issues aren’t getting addressed, while the economy is still struggling,” said Trey Grayson, director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, which on Tuesday will release the results of the latest in a series of polls documenting millennials’ attitudes toward government. “So you wonder whether the governing institutions of your country are up to the task.”
The Harvard survey, of more than 3,100 voters under 30, found that faith in most major institutions—with the notable exception of the military—has declined over the past several years. Today, only 39 percent of young voters trust the president to do the right thing, as opposed to 44 percent in 2010. Just 18 percent of voters under 30 trust Congress, compared with 25 percent in February 2010.
“The hyperpartisanship and gridlock that has befallen Washington, D.C., is having a traumatic effect not just on our nation’s status at home and abroad, but on the political health of tens of millions of once (and hopefully future) idealistic young people,” wrote John Della Volpe, the Harvard institute’s polling director, in the study’s conclusion.
You're killin' it with this shutdown, you guys! This is just what people who are beginning to form their opinions of politics and the political process need to become decidedly cynical for the rest of their lives! Man, good work. I'm gonna go back to making snide Lisa Frank Trappper-Keeper jokes and basking in the warmth and safety of my parents' unconditional love and support.